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The pilot had planned a short local scenic flight for members of his family. The aircraft was thoroughly preflighted including a physical check of the contents of the fuel tanks. Enroute, the weather deteriorated and the pilot turned back along his outbound track. He reportedly became stressed due to the weather conditions and with the added anxiety of carrying family members. Approaching the Murray Bridge airstrip, the engine began to run roughly and the pilot assumed that it was running over rich. By this time, the aircraft was about 500 feet above ground level and just below the clouds. The pilot progressively completed a trouble check as he continued the return flight. In his stressed state, and with little familiarity with the position of the fuel selector, he forgot to include a check of the fuel tank selection and contents. The engine then coughed and stopped abruptly. With little altitude and time to select a forced landing site, the pilot chose the best field available. On final approach, the pilot selected mixture to idle cutoff and turned off the fuel. It was at this point, that the pilot discovered that he had forgotten to change fuel tanks and that the selected fuel tank had run dry. He elected to continue with the approach as he was close to landing. The aircraft landed among rocky outcrops and the landing gear was torn off. The aircraft skidded about 40 metres before coming to rest.

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 23KB]
General details
Date: 03 August 1990 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1530  
Location:30 Km NNE Murray Bridge Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: South Australia  
Release date: 17 September 1990  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-32 
Aircraft registration: VH-HOW 
Serial number: 32-40411 
Type of operation: Private 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Parafield SA
Departure time:1435
Destination:Parafield SA
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